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AALDEF sues Texas after GOP dilutes political power of AAPIs

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund recently filed a lawsuit against Texas charging Republicans there redrew district lines to splice up the community’s political power.

The lawsuit is a separate one filed by Democrats which NPR reports barely mentions the Asian American community.

“AAPIs have already demonstrated that they vote together. It is clear that these new legislative district lines were drawn to intentionally divide these rapidly growing AAPI communities and prevent them and other communities of color from electing candidates of their choice,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program with AALDEF.

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas lawmakers split up the population clusters in both Harris and Ft. Bend Counties.

Ft. Bend is home to the state’s largest Asian American community with many living in the city of Sugar Land. The Asian American population in Texas nearly doubled in the county recently.

“Yet it is divvied up in three districts such that its immigrant population has lost out on the chance to get some real representation,” Nabila Mansoor of the Asian Americans Democrats of Texas said to NPR.

“It’s like (lawmakers) don’t even know we are here,” said Hyunja Norman, president of the Korean American Voters League, to the Texas Tribune. “If they were thoughtful, they could’ve included the Korean Community Center in (our district). But it’s like they are ignorant of us, or they just don’t care.”

Sugar Land is part of Texas’ 22nd district, a district that nearly elected Indian American Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni in both 2018 and 2020.

“Our concerns are that it has been redrawn explicitly to keep Troy Nehls in office as a Republican,” said attorney and activist Niloufar Hafizi to NPR.

Nehls along with almost every Texas Republican voted against a resolution condemning the Atlanta shootings in March when a gunman killed 8 people, including six Asian Americans.

“This is why representation matters,” said resident Lily Trieu. “This is why splitting our community to dilute our votes is directly denying our opportunity to receive that representation.”

Republicans do not deny they carved up Texas to maximize the chances of electing GOP candidates. David Vrshek counters that Democrats have done the same thing.

“You know, they complain about redistricting in Texas, and at the same time, they’re – they turn a blind eye to redistricting in Illinois and other places,” he said to NPR. Both Texas and Illinois have been given an “F” for fairness by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Related: California redistricting process called a model for the country.

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